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One of the largest grocery chains in the Midwest has announced that it will now have armed security guards at its stores during operating hours. Hy-Vee, which runs more than 240 locations across eight states, says its new security staff will be largely comprised of former law enforcement officers and will be equipped with pistols, tasers and bulletproof vests, with at least one guard at each location.
Hy-Vee’s executives have cited what they call a recent increase in retail crimes as the reasoning behind the decision.
“These officers will help provide another layer of safety and security for our customers, and will work alongside our store employees to deliver the same helpful smiles and outstanding service everyone expects at their local store,” said Jeremy Gosch, Hy-Vee’s president and CEO, in a statement to the press.
But not everyone is happy that their local supermarket will will now have an armed officer patrolling the aisles. In a story produced by WOI-TV out of Des Moines, Iowa, reporters noted a backlash against Hy-Vee’s decision. You can watch the full story below:
Iowa resident and journalist Kyle Ocker shared footage of Hy-Vee’s promotional video regarding its new armed security force on Twitter. In the footage he obtained — which was staged — you can see the security officers interacting with Hy-Vee customers and employees in a friendly and nurturing manner.
The replies to Ocker’s tweet show that some critics are wary of that type of law enforcement presence inside their local market.
So Hy-Vee has emailed a press release out that says they are starting a new security force for their stores. Here is B-roll footage they provided, showing the new force — apparently equipped with body cameras, gun, taser, etc. This will launch in "multiple markets" across chain. pic.twitter.com/tKDq0CLCiT
— Kyle Ocker (@Kyle_Ocker) December 29, 2021
Some people who oppose the move are arguing that guns in grocery stores are simply not necessary, and that having armed officers on the scene will actually make Hy-Vee stores more dangerous, not less.
And some on social media were upset that the promotional footage showed the new security guards not wearing face masks.
I notice Hy-Vee store brand cops, much like name brand cops, both refuse to wear masks and stand dangerously close to people https://t.co/YyhXnVnxNp
— Shepherd (@NeolithicSheep) December 30, 2021
Meanwhile, another person commented that Hy-Vee’s executives were able to launch something as invasive as an armed security force but couldn’t enforce mask mandates during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The chain got rid of its mask mandate for employees and customers in May 2021.
They can start a security force but not make customers wear masks wtf Hy-vee https://t.co/eIGF2H8lhp
— Stan Stan Stan (@fucktristo) December 29, 2021
Others used humor to defuse the tense feelings around the whole story, with one person imagining the guards as the stars of their own “Law & Order” spin-off series.
In the criminal justice system, grocery store crimes are considered especially heinous. At Hy-Vee, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious crimes are members of an elite squad known as the Hy-Vee security force. These are their stories.
— Dustin Sheets (@dustin_sheets9) December 29, 2021
The internet once again showed its speed, as there’s already a parody account for the so-called “Hy-Vee Police Department Unit.” The Twitter account mocks the idea of armed officers walking the beat at the grocery store, and the page already has more than 500 followers.
— Hy-Vee Police Department Unit Parody (@HyVeePD) January 4, 2022
Hy-Vee, which is based in Iowa, also operates stores in Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.